A Duke’s drive through the deep south

Duke's route

Route of the Windsors, through southern Georgia, outlined in black over a 1950 Georgia highway map. They exited a train at Nahunta and drove west to Pearson on US 82 before going south to Lakeland, then west to Thomasville on GA 122. The motorcade took all paved routes, a rarity in that section of the state.

King Edward VIII’s abdication of the British throne for Wallis Simpson caused considerable turmoil in December 1936.

It had played out over several months in a will he or won’t he scenario that finally ended when he made a late night journey by sea to France after he and his brothers signed the abdication document.

His successor, King George VI, was on the throne, but soon had the dual turmoil of World War II and the problem of What To Do with the Duke of Windsor. There were still headaches, but fewer of them, when the Duke was posted to the Bahamas.

Time did not dim the appeal, though, of the idea of a King who gave up his throne for love.

Continue reading


Tribute to ’56’

From the November 4, 1921 Madisonian:

“”Fifty-Six,” the famous ratter of Madison is dead. This dog belonged to all of us. Everybody fed him. He would not have a regular home but slept around town, often at the police station, as that he might be ready to go ratting any minute. And when “6” went ratting, rats went right on west. We will miss “56.” His work in town has been beyond valuation to our people. Taxes or no taxes, the City should be a nice little stone over “56,” with an account of his life and work “56” has done more for the world than some people do, for he fought an evil all his life.”

Lanier County enrollments, 1955-56

The Lanier County News from Sept. 8, 1955, gave the following as school enrollments after school began Sept. 5:

White schools

Lakeland Grammar and Lanier County High – 724

Stockton – 55

Crisp – 78

Black schools

Lakeland – 367

Stockton – 34



School stories: South Side


South Side in Brooks County was barely visible from the road in 2010.

The woods of Brooks County hold secrets.

The county seat and main city of Brooks is Quitman. There are other towns – Boston, Morven, Dixie, Barney, part of Pavo.

But Brooks is a large county and a rural one.There are lots of pine trees and lots of places to get lost. It is perhaps not surprising that there were nearly 40 African-American schools in 1950 within its borders.

A better effort was made on behalf of Brooks’ white schools. Only eight of those existed in 1950, half of those large enough to have high schools.

The other half, however, were all four-teacher institutions, existing at Barney, East Side, Sand Hill and South Side, the latter of which might have actually been Southside. (Spellings had little consistency.)

South Side opened in 1942, strangely highlighted in a brief history of Brooks County Schools, and probably one of very few schools to be built in the year after World War II began. It seems to have combined Nankin and Palmetto schools and was listed as carrying seven teachers its first year.

The student load did not last long.

The 1943-44 Georgia Educational Directory said there were six teachers at South Side. In 1945-46, the number was down to four. The number did not rebound at the war’s conclusion and four it would stay for the rest of its history.

South Side’s history would be short-lived.

With Georgia preferring its elementary schools to have at least one teacher per grade, many rural locations were in trouble. Though South Side’s included grades have not been found yet, a guess of 1-7 or 1-8 is probably not far off. Four teachers meant even more trouble.

If that was not trouble enough, other factors were at play as Quitman city and Brooks County worked to figure a merger as the school building programs were finishing.

South Side was not necessarily being maintained well, based on a sanitation report printed in The Quitman Free Press not even seven years after its opening.

A survey of all schools in the county listed South Side’s water and bathroom situation as having a drilled well and electric pump, but “unsanitary pit privies.”

The opening of the new, consolidated high school in Quitman meant that there was now more room at the nicer town schools to house children.

No stink seems to have been made when Brooks County announced in March 1959 that South Side would be closing, along with Barney, East Side and Sand Hill. South Side students were divided between Dixie and Quitman.

Brooks would never use the South Side building again as a school. Its status post-consolidation is unknown, though its condition in 2010 seems to suggest that someone did maintain the building for at least some time before the woods grew around it.

Though rural, South Side was not totally alone. From 1953-59, a very short distance separated it from Empress, a consolidated African-American school. Empress itself closed around 1967.

Sources – The Quitman Free Press – Jan. 6, 1949; March 19, 1959; Multiple editions of the Georgia Educational Directory; Greater Brooks.


Random box score: 1965 West Fannin-North Whitfield

Published December 19, 1965 in the Rome News-Tribune

West Fannin vs. North Whitfield, December 17, 1965

1965-12-19 Rome News-Tribune (West Fannin-North Whitfield)

The West Fannin dateline is more accurately Blue Ridge.


A new gym at Oak Park

The opening of new buildings always brought excitement to Georgia towns. That was certainly the case in late 1951 when Oak Park High debuted its new showplace.

With visitors apparently declaring it “one of the nicest and most serviceable structures of its kind,” the gymnatorium, as it was referred to, opened November 13 with games against Wheeler County High.

Wheeler won the girls game, 35-23, but Oak Park’s white-and-blue-clad boys destroyed the Alamo school, 72-39, in the finale.

Oak Park was nice enough that it hosted at least one game from out-of-county high schools. Vidalia and Lyons played there in January 1952 as neither school had its own gymnasium.

Within a decade, the air at Oak Park was decidedly different.

Few would have thought of closing the high school there in 1951, but low-attendance rural high schools who survived the consolidation efforts of the 1950s were soon out anyway under pressure from the state. Oak Park was transitioned into an elementary school in 1963. Twenty years later, the elementary was eliminated as well.

Sources: Swainsboro Forest-Blade – December 13, 1951; The Lyons Progress – January 10, 1952.


Let’s go see the sights

Donalsonville was hosting an attraction in February 1954. It was the latest in blood and gore that took to the road in the 1950s-60s.

If you were tempted by the bullet-riddled Bonnie and Clyde death car, this was for you:

“MARIE O’DAY’S PALACE CAR will be in Donalsonville Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5th and 6th, under the auspices of the Officers of the Donalsonville Police Department. The exhibition car has on display the body of Marie O’Day, stabbed and killed by her husband and thrown into the Great Salt Lake, where it remained for 12 years. The remarkable thing about the body is that the hair upon it is still growing. As an added attraction, reptiles from the Ross Allen Reptile Institute in Silver Springs, Fla., will be shown. The exhibition will be on display in front of the Woolfolk Avenue Police Station. No admission will be charged. Donations only.”

And in case you missed it in Donalsonville, this soon hit other cities as well.

Source: Donalsonville News – Jan. 29, 1954